The theft of personal data belonging to about 4.5 million healthcare patients earlier this year was made possible because of the Heartbleed bug, according to a leading security expert.
Community Health Systems - the US's second largest profit-making hospital chain - announced on Monday that its systems had been breached.
The head of TrustedSec - a cybersecurity firm - now alleges that the encryption flaw was exploited.
CHS has yet to respond to the claim.
The Heartbleed bug made headlines in April when Google and Codenomicon - a Finnish security company - revealed a problem with OpenSSL, a cryptographic library used to digitally scramble sensitive data.
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